Former Royal Marine sets sights on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu success

Watch: Former Royal Marine Mark Ormrod takes part in Army Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships alongside Army fighters.

More than 100 military fighters took to the mat in Aldershot for the Army Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships, a sport that is growing in popularity within the ranks. 

The tournament is open for novices as well as elite fighters and is seen as a key competition in the development of Army athletes. 

A guest fighter at this year's Army Championships is para-athlete Mark Ormrod, a triple amputee who served as a Royal Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Already an accomplished athlete with multiple medals from the Invictus Games, the former Royal Marine is now setting his sights on the World Para Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi later this year. 

"I have only very recently for the last two weeks fully committed to this and some of the other para athletes from around the UK", he said. 

"We want to form a team, we are fundraising in the reach of £25,000 to get everybody over there and then we want to bring back a whole bag full of medals for the UK."

Part of his coaching team is Lance Corporal Ricky Bellingham, a successful Jiu-Jitsu athlete himself, who invited Ormrod to compete at the Army Championships. 

Ormrod said: "He very kindly spent a lot of time down in Plymouth coaching me so he made some calls, got me an invite up and some of the guys very kindly volunteered their time to put some matches together.

"It is the only martial arts that I have ever seen or taken part in where somebody in my position can legitimately compete and adapt to his own style of Jiu-Jitsu and make your way through the rank structure on hard work and effort, rather than a pity sort of thing," he added.

LCpl Bellingham, who is coaching Ormrod, said: "He is an amazing character, as you can see he is injured, but the way we talk about it is that is his own strength, as well, because he can do stuff some people can and he has developed his own system of Jiu-Jitsu, it is amazing to see."

Bellingham is also a Jiu-Jitsu athlete who is at the top of his game after he returned from the European Championships in Paris with a gold medal. 

"It was an amazing day", he said. "It is an amazing feeling and it also just shows the growth of Army Jiu-Jitsu and to achieve that on the world stage is an amazing feeling.

The lance corporal, who serves with 1 Rifles, is a former world champion and is setting his sights on becoming the best of the best once more.

He said: "I would really like to win the worlds [world championships] this year in California and I would like to win the World Masters as well in Vegas this year, so that's my goal personally."

Another Jiu-Jitsu athlete who enjoyed gold medal success at the European Championships is Bombardier Gibbs. A former rugby player, he said he "wasn't expecting" to win the gold medal having just returned from deployment. 

"I wasn't expecting the gold result as I had just come back from Poland on deployment, but to get to the gold medal position with all the submissions was amazing," he said.

"It was really nerve-racking standing there, but once you're on the mats you can't hear nothing."

Meanwhile, in the novice competition are athletes who are at the start of their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey. 

One of them is Captain Lauren Cox of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who is making her Army Championships debut having been introduced to the sport on deployment. 

"I am absolutely brand new to the sport", she said. "So this is my first competition after a few months of training. 

"I started training when we were deployed on Op [Operation] Cabrit in Estonia with a club team with the Royal Welsh.

"It's extremely physical and it is quite creative as well and it's just nice to do something where everyone is on my level to start with," she added.

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